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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Lizzie Edmonds

Vanessa Feltz ‘consumed by sadness’ following death of Paul O’Grady

Vanessa Feltz has said she has been “consumed by sadness” following the death of Paul O’Grady.

The broadcaster added in her latest Express column that the comedian had promised her “nights of debauchery and dissipation” before his shock death last week.

It comes following 61-year-old Feltz’s split from her ex Ben Ofoedu, 50, after 16 years.

Last week, O’Grady’s partner Andre Portasio confirmed the star passed away “unexpectedly but peacefully.”

Feltz wrote in her newspaper column: “When I woke to the news of his death I was consumed by shock and sadness.

“My phone still bristles with his messages promising nights of ‘debauchery and dissipation’. I looked forward to both immensely, of course.”

Feltz added that while O’Grady “didn’t do soppy sentiment or compliments”, he would always manage to make everyone “feel appreciated”.

“He was unmatched at giving people instant fitting nicknames. He called me, flatteringly, the Delphic Sibyl after the Ancient Greek oracle. He thought I was knowledgeable and from a polymath such as Paul, that was a most treasured compliment.”

She concluded: “Dog-lover Paul was a campaigner for social justice, animal rights and LGBTQ+ equality with an astringent tongue, rapier-sharp wit, a soaring intellect and a heart of shimmering gold. I will miss him every single day.”

It comes as  Battersea Dogs and Cats Home said it had been “overwhelmed and touched” by donations from the public after the death of the charity’s ambassador O’Grady.

The TV and radio presenter became an ambassador for Battersea in 2012 after the success of ITV’s multi-award-winning For The Love Of Dogs, 11 series of which were filmed at the home.

After O’Grady’s death the animal charity set up a “tribute fund” which has raised more than £100,000.

In a statement to the PA news agency, chief executive Peter Laurie said: “Over the coming weeks and months, Battersea will be finding the best way to pay tribute to our wonderful friend and ambassador, the late, great Paul O’Grady MBE.

“We have been overwhelmed and touched by the countless letters, calls, emails and messages of support along with the generous donations made by kind members of the public this week.

“We will be looking to find a suitably fitting way to remember the profound impact Paul had at Battersea and the rescue animal sector, something that will support the animals that Paul loved so much and that would make him proud.”

Vanessa Feltz and Ben Ofoedu (Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for B)

Mr Laurie previously told PA that O’Grady was a “genuine animal lover” and his “real legacy” is how he showed the British public and an international audience how “lovable and incredible” rescue dogs are, inspiring people to adopt and rehome.

O’Grady was given a special recognition award at the 2018 National Television Awards for the impact For The Love Of Dogs had on helping find homes for rescue animals nationwide.

His contribution to animal welfare was also recognised with an RSPCA animal hero award.

Meanwhile, O’Grady’s long-time radio producer will pay tribute to the late star on Boom Radio on Easter Sunday.

Malcolm Prince worked with O’Grady at both BBC Radio 2 and later Boom Radio, an independent station aimed at baby boomers, up until O’Grady’s death last week.

In a slot originally scheduled for a special Easter broadcast from O’Grady and Prince, the producer will pay tribute to his late friend and colleague, who will “will never really leave us”, ahead of a rebroadcast of the pair’s Boom Radio Christmas Day show.

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